Get as Much as You Give with Volunteering

Get as Much as You Give with Volunteering

 

Volunteering your time and energy helps strengthen your community and helps others. Plus, researchers are finding definitive links between volunteerism and important emotional and physical benefits.

Why Do It?

Volunteering decreases the risk of depression and dementia for both the volunteer and the recipient. It provides increased social interactions and a greater sense of purpose and accomplishment for both. The National Institute on Aging reported that participating in volunteer activities lowers the risk of dementia and other health problems.

Successful aging requires physical activity. Helping with a local sports team or walking as a companion to help another promotes physical and mental fitness. Older volunteers experience greater life satisfaction and increased perceived health.

The anti-depression effects and physical activity also can help reduce stress. This can help boost the immune system, promote better health and cut the risk of disease.

Giving your time to others also can make you feel like you have more time to give. A Wharton College study found that volunteers felt more capable, confident and useful. This feeling boosts self-esteem and makes you feel like you can accomplish even more. Plus, folks who volunteer by giving not only time but also money can feel wealthier, again boosting mental health.

 

Face Time

Social isolation is a major problem for older adults, and volunteerism can help you make new friends and strengthen existing relationships. A strong social network can aid in practicing social skills and aging successfully.

Studies also point out the benefits of intergenerational relationships. Many high school students are encouraged to volunteer to bolster college applications. Seniors who volunteer can engage with this younger generation of volunteers, creating lasting friendships and shared experiences.

Retirement can be difficult for seniors, especially when someone is forced out at a relatively young age. Starting a new “career” by volunteering fills the void left by not having a workplace to go to every day.

So, if you are convinced that it would be time well spent to volunteer, where do you start? Some suggestions:

  • RSVP, a program of Senior Corps
  • BVU in the Cleveland area, which matches volunteers to nonprofit organizations
  • Greater Cleveland Volunteers, especially Encore Cleveland, designed for “experienced” Clevelanders

Find an activity you’re passionate about. Volunteering is best for all parties involved when you are doing something you enjoy. It’s never too late to get started. Whether you just retired or are in your later years, there is an opportunity out there for you.

 

Laurie G. Steiner is a member of the law firm of Solomon, Steiner & Peck, Ltd. She is a Certified Elder Law Attorney by the National Elder Law Foundation and the Ohio State Bar Association and an accredited attorney for the preparation, presentation and prosecution of claims for veteran’s benefits before the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

About the author

Laurie G. Steiner is a member of the law firm of Solomon, Steiner & Peck. She is a certified elder law attorney by the National Elder Law Foundation and the Ohio State Bar Association. She practices in the area of elder law, Medicaid, VA and disability planning, and estate and trust planning and administration. She can be reached at 216-765-0123 or at http://www.ssandplaw.com/

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